Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mark's Tomato Heaven!

Sunday was tomato picking time at Brookwood Community Farm...a new community
farm I co-founded last year. When we planted the 3600 seedlings of about 20 tomato different varieties in the cold, damp spring it was impossible to imagine the amazing abundance that they would eventually produce. In three hours, 12 volunteers and I picked 575 lbs. of tomatoes - so many they filled the floor of the shed where we have our farm stand! Gotta love homegrown tomatoes!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Farm Aid Feasts on Chipotle

We had Chipotle for lunch today to support their support for Farm Aid!

Today, Wednesday, August 29th when you purchase a burrito, tacos, salad or bowl with any of their naturally raised meats, at any of their restaurants, Chipotle will donate 100% of the proceeds, up to $50,000, to Farm Aid!

Thanks, Chipotle! Now get out there and get yourself a DELICIOUS naturally-raised pork burrito!
Go here to learn more!

Check out Farm Aid in today’s New York Times Dining Section!

On the Road to Farm Aid, the Long, Sweet Way

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Joel Goes Back to College

Prior to going to work for Farm Aid last year, I spent more than 20 years as a teacher at colleges and universities around the country, so I know a little something about the ins and outs of “higher education.” For example, I know what it takes to create a new, innovative program within a traditional academic department. I also know about the pressure on academics to keep their heads (politically) low, keep pumping out publications, and keep pleasing faculty committees and administrative over-seers. Agricultural higher education is no exception to this. In fact, ag departments are notoriously conservative places, and, let’s face it, they’re too often beholden to corporate agribusiness for big contributions, major research dollars, and compromised research agendas.

For all these reasons, it was incredibly refreshing to attend the second annual “Facilitating Sustainable Agriculture Education” conference, held at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, July 11-14. Approximately 170 faculty, staff, grad and undergrad students, as well as a few of us from outside the academic world, came together with the goal of solidifying and enhancing sustainable agriculture education at schools large and small all over the country. In addition to networking and resource exchange among some of the nation’s most innovative and socially engaged ag educators, the major result of the conference was the formal creation of a new professional organization, the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA). This kind of membership-based institution-building within academia is crucial to the collective survival and continued growth of sustainable ag programs that have been popping up all over the country in the last ten years. Although we tend to think that what happens within the ivory tower has little to do with life on the “outside,” in fact the growth of such programs is part of the larger “good food movement” that so many of us are embracing as our own.

Future farmers do indeed go to college! The kind of agricultural education they receive there depends wholly on the kinds of programs available to them. Sustainable ag education is in everyone’s best interest -- so please support your local sustainable ag education program! Check out the SAEA conference!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New York Times Goes Out to the Farm

Farm Aid staff really enjoyed Kim Severson's article in the Times this Sunday:
In Pursuit of Farm Fresh Flavor

Friday, August 17, 2007

Attention FarmYard members!

Some of you have been waiting anxiously since the early morning of June 15th
to find out exactly where your seats will be for Farm Aid 2007: A HOMEGROWN
Festival! Well we have some good news! The tickets were packed and sent out this
morning via priority mail. They should arrive at your doorstep next week! (Don't forget, a signature will be required upon delivery.)

See you at the show!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wendy Offers Fashion Advice to Farm Aid Concert Goers

One of my favorite parts of my job is helping to create the Farm Aid merchandise. Not only do our shirts look good but they are good for you. We buy only organic, made-in-the-USA shirts. They are union printed by an amazing company in Rhode Island; Mirror Image has been our partner for over 10 years.

Starting in early June, I work with a handful of designers to create the right looks for our show. I keep in mind all the types of people attending and what they might
want to wear. For example, for women (young and old) we have a
Strawberry Girly T
. For those nostalgic for the farm, our Tractor T. For those who want a souvenir from the show the Logo T. For those who want a more natural look, the Rainbow Apple T. And, of course, for those who really want to share their opinion, our best selling Farmers Kick T.

There will be more that we just don't have yet and some new accessories this year that you'll have to check out in the store!

Laura Gives Some Hints about Farm Aid's First Festival

In case you haven’t already gathered, we are doing things a little differently this year! Yesterday, Glenda blogged about all the awesome food we are going to be serving at the show this year. I can’t wait to chow down! But that’s not all that will be different about the show this year. We are putting together a whole bunch of hands on, interactive, get-your-hands-dirty exhibits about the world of food and farming. We hope to show you things like healthy soil, how to make alternative fuels, the connection between farms and clean water, how plants can flourish in a city like NY and maybe, if you are very lucky, how farm animals jive to our rockin’ line-up.

By the end of the day, I promise that you will have had a chance to smell, taste, feel and see the world of New York family farmers. Come ready to play, plunge your hands into the soil, and ask questions. We can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Farm Aid’s very first HOMEGROWN Festival.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Glenda Gets Down to the Meat and Potatoes of Food at Farm Aid 2007: A HOMEGROWN Festival

When professional concessionaires or caterers work on an event; they let their years of experience work for them. They feel confident that once they can determine the numbers to serve, they can plan their menus, and simply fill out the order sheet for SYSCO or some other delivery system. Then they begin to chop and cook!

When Farm Aid set about the goal of sourcing family farm food for concert-goers, artists and crew, we tended to disrupt an efficient, effective system of food procurement.
Thankfully we have helpful and flexible partners in this enterprise. Our way requires more people and a lot of creative thinking!

Sonya Dagovitz Kugler is the Farm Aid forager. She’s sourcing all of the food, and then directing that food to the concessions and catering people. Right now she is busy calling and emailing organic food companies, local farms, the farmers markets, people who do little food stands, restaurants and small food processors. The concessionaire has helped bring in the right kind of companies, too, and even found a company that has compostable cups and plates. We hope we can compost all the leftover food and plates, and build up the soil somewhere with our leftovers!

Working with what’s in season, and being somewhat dependent upon donations will make for a delicious, unusual menu! But don’t worry, we’ll have corn dogs and french fries, and pizza too. And we promise there will be a good story and a good farmer behind all the food we plan to serve.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cornelia Joins Farm Aid and Tells Us Who Is Playing!

It’s the long awaited Farm Aid 2007: A Homegrown Festival lineup! Joining board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews on Sunday, September 9 at Randall’s Island in New York City for the day-long festival, we’ve got some great new artists to announce.

We have Gregg Allman, the Allman Brothers Band, Counting Crows, Matisyahu, Guster, The Derek Trucks Band, Warren Haynes, Supersuckers, The Ditty Bops and Montgomery Gentry, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews who will be joined by Tim Reynolds.

As the newest staff member here at Farm Aid, I am pretty excited to see one band in particular:

I have been a fan of The Supersuckers since the first time I saw them at The Middle East Rock Club in Cambridge, MA, in 1994. Songs like “Born with a Tail” and “Bad, Bad, Bad” are definitive songs for me from that era. As a hard-to-please, chronically ho-hum hipster of the mid-nineties, I lost all semblance of composure when watching Eddie Spaghetti and the boys command the stage and whip up the crowd.

I’ve seen the band at least a dozen times since then – even spoke to the “19th most Powerful Woman in Rock” (featured in their song by that name) on the phone once – and they never fail to entertain. At Randall’s Island I’ll be right up front, throwing the goat and yelling for more – see you there!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ted Visits New York City's Greenmarkets

Over the past several weeks, I’ve had some great conversations with family farmers engaged in direct marketing activities in New York City. Of particular interest are the farmers selling direct to city residents through farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs (CSAs). In every conversation I’ve had, I’ve heard the same message: Farmers markets, CSAs and other direct marketing activities are the lifeblood of family farmers struggling to survive on the urban fringe.

Zaid Kurdieh, of Norwich Meadows Farm, got right to the point when I talked with him on a recent Saturday at his farmstand in the Greenmarket at Tompkins Square Park.

“Without the Greenmarket, I’d be out of farming,” he said. Kurdieh is also heavily involved in New York City-based Just Food’s CSA program. Farm Aid has been a long-time funder of Just Food’s work to bring family farm raised food to underserved communities in New York, and we’re extremely proud of our association with them and their achievements.

John Gorzynski, who sells fresh produce grown at Gorzynski Ornery Farm several days a week at the Greenmarket in Union Square, had a similar story:

“It makes all the difference,” he said as he stepped up onto his truck to haul down a case of fresh leaf lettuce.

Stewart Borowsky, who is the first farmer I’ve ever met who harvests his crop with scissors, depends on the economic opportunity created by the Union Square Greenmarket to vend fresh wheat grass. Borowsky raises his crop in Brooklyn and says direct marketing is the cornerstone of his farm/business plan.

More and more farmers all the time are taking advantage of direct marketing opportunities. There are now 327 farmers markets and 127 CSA programs operating in New York state. In New York City, 76 farmers markets are operating—16 of them are open year round. Nationally, it’s clear there is an explosion of interest in farmers markets. A recent study by the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program reveals a 1,200 percent increase in the number of farmers markets since 1970. Last year, there were 4,385 markets operating.

This tremendous growth is attributable to an amazing shift in the way people are thinking about and buying their food. We’re realizing that fresh food tastes better, and we’re finding ways to get it right from family farmers. Farmers are more than happy to join in. For many farmers, direct sales are a way to boost their bottom line while avoiding the discouraging prospect of selling their food wholesale, where they sometimes have to sell at or below the cost of production. At Farm Aid, we view this shift in thinking and action as part of the Good Food Movement that is growing at an astonishing pace, creating real economic opportunity for family farmers and helping to ensure that all of us can obtain fresh, locally produced food.